Reading Recap: January

I would be lying if I said I was sad to see the end of this month so soon. 

Does anyone actually like January? It is always a rough month for me, with winter blues and the like taking a toll on me every year. It has been a mild one this time around, but not exactly good. 

I don’t know about you, but some of my resolutions are holding on by a thread. The only ones that are going steady are my reading ones, funnily enough. I think that says a lot about where my priorities in life are. 

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

Life and love can be complicated and messy, just ask Hajime.

On paper, Hajime has it good. A stable business, loving wife and children. However, he didn’t truly move on entirely from his childhood friend Shimamoto, his first love. The two were inseparable as children, the only children with no siblings in town. Isolated, they turned to one another until they drifted away as teens are want to do.

Now adults, they finally reunite. However, is that bond still intact, and what is Hajime willing to risk for it?

It is a brilliant book about interpersonal relationships, nostalgia and lost opportunities. I wrote a full review for this novel, so for my full thoughts, please check it out.

The Travelling Companion by Ian Rankin

This novel is a firework, a short experience but it blows up in your face and leaves you in shock.

A young Scotsman is living in Paris, working for room and board in a secondhand bookshop. Ronald Hastie is staying for the summer so he can experience the city his hero stayed in for a spell, Robert Louis Stevenson. The author behind Jekyll and Hyde. His quiet life comes to an end after meeting someone who offers him a chance to read Stevenson’s unpublished novel, The Travelling Companion. A novel that was said to be destroyed, yet this collector claims to have a surviving copy. 

He is sent away, told to only come back when he is ready. As the days go on, his desperation to read the surviving copy grows and seems to awaken something in him, something dark and reckless.

I am still under this novel’s spell, and I read it back at the start of this month! It is bloody brilliant, if you can track down a copy you simply have to read it! 

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I have been saving this book for winter. I’m glad I did.

This classic Christie case follows Hercule Poirot as he is caught in a cage with a killer, the cage being the luxurious Orient Express, stuck in the snow. It turns out one of the passengers past may have caught up with him, with bloody consequences.

The rest of the passengers are all suspicious. Each hiding a few secrets themselves, but who did the dead?

Murder on the Orient Express is my favourite Christie novel to date, and now I can see why this was her most popular novel. Gripping and dramatic with one hell of a mystery. The perfect cosy crime to read in the colder months.

Slaughterhouse-Five: The Children’s Crusade A Duty-Dance With Death by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

I have caught myself saying “so it goes” to myself on a near-daily basis ever since reading this classic. I am not sure if that is a good thing, but it legit helps sometimes, so I’m leaning toward it being a positive.

Billy Pilgrim is an unlikely survivor. The man has gone through it, from being a prisoner of war and aliens to surviving a plane crash. Or rather, he is going through it, as he is “unstuck in time”. In short, he is living his life out of order. One minute he is having a chat with his patients at his optometry office, the next, he is hunkering down as the city of Dresen is being firebombed to hell and back.

Slaughterhouse-Five is, as I said in my review, a gut-punch of a novel. Witty yet brutal and compelling. 

The Raven and Other Selected Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

As much as I like Edgar Allan Poe, I mostly stuck to his short stories as I am not a poetry person.

Or at least, I wasn’t back then. As of the last couple of years, I started reading poetry to try and get into it. While they tend to be a hit or miss, I have a soft spot for gothic poetry. You can’t get more gothic than Poe, so I finally got around to reading his poems this year. 

I loved them to pieces. It certainly helped that sometimes I read them by candlelight at night. The vibes were immaculate, ten out of ten would recommend. 

Culture Warlords: My Journey Into the Dark Web of White Supremacy by Talia Lavin

As much as we wish white supremacy was a thing of the past, it is alive and well. It is all but thriving on some dark corners of the internet.

Talia Lavin decided to shine some light on this, divulging what goes on behind closed virtual doors. Infiltrating their ranks as an Aryan blonde bombshell or a lonely incel, as needs must. While in reality, she is everything these people hate.

I don’t want to repeat myself too much, so for more details, please read my review.

It was while I was typing up this ramble that I noticed how dark the last few reads were. Yeah, maybe I should try and read some lighter books next month. 

Currently Reading

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight

I don’t care for self-help. Frankly, I don’t trust the genre due to a few prominent names in the said genre with a less than stellar record. 

However, as part of the Reading Glasses Challenge, I need to read one.

I thought The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k would be a decent one to go with, so far, it looks like I was right. 

I’ll be honest, I picked up this one because all the other ones at my local library were either by people I actively dislike or seemed real pretentious or too hippy-dippy. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k appeared to be the most grounded one on the shelf, so I went with my gut.

I’m only about a chapter or so deep, but it’s a fun, lighthearted psychology book that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s like having a sit down with a friend who is telling you, “Listen mate, I love you, but you really need to get it together!” and I can vibe with that over “Trust that the stars will shine as bright as your self love!” any day of the week.

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